[A-List] Mexico's Murderous Zetas; Wyclef Jean Could be Haiti's Wind of Change; Peru Embraces Free Trade
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
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Fri Aug 6 14:21:23 MDT 2010
Council on Hemispheric Affairs Research MemorandumCouncil on Hemispheric Affairs Research Memorandum
About COHA Contact COHA In the News Internships In the Wrong Hands: Los Zetas and the Gun Laws that Help Them Thrive
• An anatomy of a Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization
• Drug violence spills over the border
• Possibility of drug legalization debate raised by President Calderón
• Poor U.S. gun regulation enables drug violence in Mexico
• “Straw purchasing” and “ant running”
It is possible for terror to originate from a recognized symbol of power, safety, and strength. When a manifestation of all that is good betrays the trust bestowed upon it and becomes instead an agent of destruction, ruthlessness, and brutality, the fear it generates is far greater than if it had been regarded as evil all along. Unfortunately, one of the ultimate examples of this form of deception thrives in the chaos of the drug world. In Mexico, this terror is known by a name rarely spoken above a chilling whisper: Los Zetas.
Emerging as one of the most dangerous byproducts of the drug trade, Los Zetas’ existence represents a profound threat to the U.S. as well as to their country of origin. Not only does the U.S. keep Los Zetas in business with its insatiable appetite for drugs, but it also blindly puts guns in the hands of these killers. Since 2006, 28,000 individuals have lost their lives to this hemispheric catastrophe, a huge jump from the 23,000 reported in June of this year. With such an astronomically increasing death toll, drastic action needs be taken – and fast. Mexican President Felipe Calderón has taken the recent step of proposing a debate to consider the pros and cons of drug legalization. As for the U.S., it is critical that it finally takes responsibility for its role as a gun supplier to the drug trafficking industry. Of the tens thousands who have died at the hands of drug violence, many of these victims’ last visions were of a U.S.-made or U.S.-imported semi-automatic assault rifle.
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This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Devin Parsons
Wyclef Jean Seeks the Haitian Presidency: A Breath of Fresh Air — or a Dabbler who will Break Haiti’s Heart?
Wyclef Jean, famous hip-hop/reggae artist and founder of the humanitarian organization Yelé Haiti, on August 5, 2010, made official his candidacy for the presidency of Haiti. The goodwill ambassador with no political experience will be running against former Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis, likely the most formidable opposition figure as he is backed by incumbent President Rene Préval. Jean has announced that he would prioritize alleviating poverty and use his image to attract foreign investment.
His decision represents a culmination of the Haitian diaspora’s increased engagement on the island and the warm reception its members now receive. Many Haitian “ex-pats” who previously attempted to reinvest in the country were blocked by hostile attitudes towards them as being deserters and dissmemblers. This mentality has changed completely in the wake of the January, 2010 earthquake, and many today are craving a radical change in the island’s political leadership, making Jean’s presidency a highly popular option.
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This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Alice Barrett
Peru: Redefining Independence
On July 28th, the 189th anniversary of Peru’s independence from Spain, Peruvians both at home and abroad could not help but feel a heightened sense of pride over their country’s prosperity. Peru has been identified as possessing the fastest-growing Latin American economy in 2010 and has achieved a commendable reduction in poverty and inequality, with its income per capita Gini coefficient decreasing from 0.54 in 1997 to 0.49 in 2006. Despite the global economic meltdown and domestic social and political instability affecting the country, these improvements in poverty and inequality signal a promising future. However, as the country continues to implement neo-liberal policies that have contributed to a 9.8% GDP increase in 2008, Peru must continue to guarantee its independence against economic opportunism through effective use of existing bilateral free trade agreements. These agreements should be seen not so much as ends in themselves, but rather as tools for promoting economic prosperity and higher living standards.
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed with the United States in April 2006 reaffirmed the economic progress of Peru by laying a groundwork for future neo-liberal expansion. It secured access to the largest world economy, which would increase and diversify exports and eliminate trade distortions caused by tariffs, import quotas, subsidies, and non-tariff barriers. Furthermore, free trade would even out market competitiveness through a process of gradually lifting barriers.
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This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Andrea Cornejo
Friday, August 06, 2010 | Research Memorandum 10.1
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